Updated: Jan 14
The universe has a strange sense of timing. Six months ago I made a strong push to not take my fishing trips for granted. Meaning I'd just head out of town on a whim. Maybe I packed water; maybe a lunch... More likely I'd just figure it out on the drive home. And it wasn't just food. My fishing checklist was short. With the most essential fishing gear, I was out the door. But what if things went a little sideways?... I wasn't prepared for that and decided that it wasn't acceptable anymore. I spent the entire winter digging through what I had, and identified what I felt I needed, even if it for situations that were unlikely to ever happen. So, I consolidated a motley crew of things that would help me get home, just in case the impossible were to occur.
Then 2020 happened and being prepared rocketed to the forefront of importance for everyone. We've since started to poke our heads out of our holes, and it seems possible to answer the call of the river once again. Though some may have fished the entire time during the COVID outbreak, the apprehension to explore has only recently waned for me. Modest trips feel much further, and my internal pessimism has a winning record so far this year. It's not even about lurking viruses; it's just a reminder about being prepared for the unexpected. In some ways, fly-anglers are pretty good at being prepared. I mean seriously, how many boxes of flies do you carry "just-in-case"? But what other just-in-case gear should you have? Well, if you don't have a good answer, let me get you started.
I also want to clarify one thing, I'm not saying take all this stuff on your person all day when you're out, but keep it in your car. I'm also not saying that this particular collection of stuff will completely bail you out of that day that goes sideways, but to build on the usual outdoor essentials (sunscreen, pocket knife, that kinda stuff).
I stuff everything listed into a backpack. Here are my basics for personal maintenance. Each in its own ziplock baggie.
Advil, Benadryl, Tweezers, Neosporin, Band-Aids, Portawipes, electrolyte tablets, First-Aid guide. All things that might spring up for you or your fishing buddies.
N95 mask (if you can find one), fire starter, sewing needle, paracord, compass, multitool, some knot tying guide that I had laying around. Things that might be less frequently needed, but take up little room.
Next are the bigger things that need more space. Similar to a kit you'd want for dangerous winter driving conditions:
Thick socks, working gloves, extra shoes, compact jacket
Emergency sleeping bag and tent
Hand-crank, USB, battery-powered radio and solar-powered charger
Zipties, more matches
The cool thing with all this is that I was able to consolidate everything into one backpack, so it's easy to grab if you're going in someone else's car, or need to move between vehicles. The true power of having this kind of stuff is knowing exactly what you are and are not prepared for when you're dealt a losing hand.
I even made room for some binoculars and extra dry clothes.
It has given me great confidence that I've covered the basics, plus a little extra. If you have something that you think should be included, let us know! This is a living and evolving collection and we would love to know what else is you consider to be essential.
Now I just need to remember all those fly boxes too...